Does my child need insoles/orthotics?
As a foot specialist, I often get patients asking for orthotics for their flat feet. Especially, by worried parents who want to reduce the risk of their children developing problems in the future. There is a lot of conflicting advice throughout the web on this topic, mainly due to the fact that there is minimal to no high quality evidence on the prescription of orthotics for children. So lets discuss the scientific evidence we have available with some practical application.
No pain, no change!
We know that between the ages of 1-5 up to 95% of children haven’t developed arches in their feet yet. For those who are above this age category and you notice that they are yet to form an arch, it is important to keep in mind that if there is no pain or symptoms, then there is minimal to no evidence that orthotics reduce the risk of pain in the future. In line with this, there is no evidence to suggest that having flat feet increases your risk of foot pain. Have a think about afro-Caribbean runners, historically they have produced some of the best sprinters in the world, yet they are known for having distinctly ‘genetic flat feet’.
Reasons for using orthotics in the young adult with flat feet
There is evidence for the use of orthotics/insoles with children or adolescents above the age of 5, if they have pain. Conditions such as heel pain, arch pain, knee pain and Achilles pain all have the potential to be helped by the use of an orthotic/insole. We suggest that if your child is experiencing some discomfort, you should bring them to see a therapist to confirm the source of pain. If applicable, try an off the shelf orthotic first, which your therapist can advise you on. If this fails, then a custom orthotics may be required. To learn more about our custom orthotics please click here or to gain a greater understanding of how an orthotic works, please read our article here.